Variations in access to health care are known to contribute to differences in life expectancy, morbidity and health-related quality-of-life across population subgroups. We undertook a scoping review to identify what is known about in-country variations in access to services for adults with multiple sclerosis and to identify gaps in the literature to inform future research and national policies. We searched MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, PSYCHINFO, SocINDEX and Social Science Abstracts from inception to end of December 2016 for quantitative studies which had investigated differences in access to prevention services, healthcare services, treatments and social care between inequality groups, defined using the PROGRESS-PLUS framework. A total of 4959 unique abstracts yielded 36 papers which met our eligibility criteria. Only 3 studies were cohort studies and only 4 were population based; most were from the United States (n=27). There were 6 studies on access to MS focused care and 6 on access to Disease Modifying drugs. There were 3 studies on access to prevention/lifestyle programmes and none on access to welfare services or information support. There were no papers examining inequalities in access for ‘vulnerable’ groups, such as, those with learning disability. In the available studies, there was evidence of inequalities in access to services with a trend for worse access among men, older age groups, those from lower socioeconomic groups or the least educated, non-caucasians, those with mental health problems and those from rural areas. In the studies on access to disease modifying treatments, older age and lower socioeconomic status were consistently associated with a lower rate of uptake, while race and gender were not. Inequalities or disparities in access to all levels of services and treatments will need to be addressed through a strategic research agenda with an emphasis on population based studies and development and evaluation of interventions to reduce inequality.
Roddam, H., Rog, D., Janssen, J., Wilson, N., Cross, L., Olajide, O., & Dey, P. (2019). Inequalities in access to health and social care among adults with multiple sclerosis: a scoping review of the literature. Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, 28, 290-304. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2018.12.043